A Strong Past – A Vibrant Future

Chittenden County has a rich history of community-based gardening which is closely connected to cultural, agricultural, and social history, as well as with the growth of many of the region’s entrepreneurial businesses and organizations. From the Gardens For All movement in the 1970s, to the youth garden movement in the 80s and the rise of municipally-supported gardens in Burlington, to the decline in community gardening in the 90s and the rise in the 2000s and today, Chittenden County has been a hub of community-based food production and this history has been linked to economic and social trends. Today, these gardens feed and connect thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds. They are vibrant sites for food access and education and play an important role in connecting new arrivals and long-time residents. These gardens plant the seeds for a lifetime of healthy food choices, fight hunger, get people outside, build healthy soils, and strengthen local communities.

VCGN’s Roots

In the fall of 1992, four Burlington Area Community Gardens board members, Karen Halverson, Lisa Halvorsen, Charlie Nardozzi, and Jim Flint, formed “Friends of Starr Farm Community Garden” to establish and coordinate a one-acre community garden in Burlington’s New North End.

Its mission accomplished, Friends of Starr Farm Community Garden evolved into “Friends of Burlington Area Community Gardens” (FBACG) to support the expansion of community gardening in Burlington. From 1996 to 1999, the grassroots group helped found the Children’s Discovery Garden, Rock Point Community Garden, and the Wheelock Farm Community Garden.

Friends of Burlington Area Community Gardens incorporated as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization in November 2001, hired Jim Flint as executive director, and began working formally to strengthen community gardening in Burlington.

In 2003, FBACG shortened its name to “Friends of Burlington Gardens” (FBG) and expanded outreach to include community, neighborhood, school, and accessible gardening projects in Burlington. The Community Teaching Garden at Ethan Allen Homestead was founded in 2003 as a model service-learning program teaching beginning adult gardeners how to grow fresh organic produce from planting to harvest.

In 2006, FBG launched the Vermont Community Garden Network (VCGN) to support community and school garden projects across Vermont. Since then, the organization has awarded more than $90,000 in mini-grants benefiting 260 community, school, and neighborhood garden projects.

In 2009, FBG adopted the Healthy City program from the Intervale Center, which allowed the program to serve a much broader student population from directly on school grounds. The program is now fully integrated in the Burlington School Food Project, which took on management of the Healthy City Youth Farm in 2013.

What started with four friends and a New North End garden has grown into a statewide organization offering community gardening training, technical support, and funding to Vermont’s garden leaders. In 2013, the organization changed its name from Friends of Burlington Gardens to the Vermont Community Garden Network (VCGN) to better reflect the scope of its work.

Learn more about the history of community gardens in Burlington.

VCGN builds upon the joint resolution passed by the Vermont legislature in 2004 to support the expansion of community, youth, and school gardening movement statewide.


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